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Take Five With...

Take Five With John Armato

By Published: November 29, 2009
I have a couple of dozen tunes on my online demo on my site, from a variety of recording sessions over about 20 years, but by far the one I'm proudest of is a demo recording I did with Lisa Henry in 1994.

Lisa is a fabulous singer from Kansas City, Missouri. She had decided to enter the Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
Institute vocal jazz competition and put together this killer trio for her submission tape. Dan Deluca on piano, Gerald Spaits on bass, and—my good fortune—me.

We went into the studio without any prep. Ran the tunes once to work out endings, and then recorded, and it was the best session I've ever been a part of. Everything clicked. Lisa was happy to. The judges at the competition specifically called out the quality of her players. She ended up placing second and toured Africa and other parts of the world not long after that. Thinking of that and listening to those tunes makes me smile.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Kind of Blue. I bought it because of that great cover. I hadn't heard it before, but looking at it, I just knew there had to be beautiful sounds slipped inside that sleeve.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Drummers are, of course, supposed to be all about the time, and I think I do a pretty good job of making the time comfortable for people. But what I want to do more than anything else is make the other players feel like they have a sonic cushion they can kind of float and dance on. That starts with good time, but it goes beyond that. There are so many colors and voices available to a drummer. I try to play textures, provide forward motion, and make clear distinctions between the parts of the form to keep things interesting. I think I'm pretty successful at that, but you'd have to ask the people I've played with.

Did you know...

Music is a huge part of my life. Drums have been a part of my life longer than any other passion, but I have a lot of interests and they all seem to be related to creative pursuits. By profession, I'm a public relations executive. I do a lot of writing and developing communications strategies for clients and help them figure out what they're messages are. But I've also done a lot of freelance writing of feature stories. I was a freelance graphic designer right out of college. And for a while in high school and college, I was a magician. That's right—magician.

CDs you are listening to now:

Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
b.1963
vocalist
- Blue In Green

Sophie Millman - Take Love Easy

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
- The Far East Suite

The Chris Walden Big Band - Home of My Heart

The Three Sounds - Blue Genes

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Dave Brubeck - Jazz Goes to College

Anne Phillips - Born to be Blue

Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
- Big Swing Face

Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
- First Circle

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Eclectic, encouraging, more appreciative of the Great American Song Book than it once was.


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